Migraines and heart disease. Unfortunately, research has shown that there's a connection. In studies Migraine has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
Given that association and the fact that more women have Migraine than men, it's especially fitting that we observe National Wear Red Day, sponsored by the American Heart Association, on Friday. Each year on the first Friday in February, thousands of hospitals, small businesses, multinational corporations, news broadcasters, schools, individuals and even landmarks “Go Red” to help raise crucial awareness and significant funds in the fight against heart disease in women.
Here are some vital facts:
- Heart disease is still the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year.
- More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined.
- While one in 10 American women dies from breast cancer each year, one in three dies of cardiovascular disease.
- Currently, some eight million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease, yet only one in six American women believes that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
- Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
- In women, heart disease is too often a silent killer – less than a third of women in a recent survey reported any early warning signs such as chest pain or discomfort before a heart attack, compared with most men.
- Only slightly more than half of women are likely to call 911 if experiencing symptoms. And yet, 79 percent of women said that they would call 911 if someone else was having a heart attack.
Signs of a heart attack & getting personal:
Do you know the signs of a heart attack in women? Even if you think you do, please review them and be sure you understand them. Until a few years ago, I'd have said, "Yes, I know them." I would have been wrong.
After a routine EKG, my family doctor called to tell me that it had shown evidence of a heart attack. Talk about a shocker! I'd dismissed chess discomfort/pain because it felt the same as what I'd experienced with gastroesophageal reflux, and I'd dismissed back and jaw pain as stress. Cardiac catheterization (you do NOT want to go there) showed that a small branch of the right descending coronary artery was 80% blocked. Long story made short, I now take medications for my heart that I will have to take every day for the rest of my life. Every time I feel a twinge in my chest, certain parts of my back, or in my jaw, it's really frightening. Pains in my chest could be angina or heartburn. If they're angina, a nitroglycerin tablet goes under my tongue, and I have instructions from my doctor about using those and when to call 911.
Please, learn from my experience. Review these signs of heart attack. You may want to print them and keep them:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience
some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 911. Get to a hospital right away.
For information about Migraine and cardiovascular disease and women, see:
American Heart Association. "Make It Your Mission to Fight Heart Disease in Women." GoRedForWomen.org. 2011.
American Heart Association. "2011-2012 Go Red For Women Fact Sheet." GoRedForWomen.org. 2011.
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